Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Edcamp with a Side of Encore

Chattanooga, Tennessee had its 6th annual Edcamp GigCity in January. Every year, at the end of the edcamp, participants are asked to give feedback in order to qualify for the door prizes that will be given out next. The planning team has always taken that feedback seriously. Due to feedback, the entire event was moved to January instead of May two years ago. Due to feedback, the edcamp changed a bit. Every year there was always a bit of feedback that attendees wished there were some choices to just attend led sessions to learn things. Our team has always held tight our desire to truly model the edcamp philosophy of participant-driven discussions. We realized that many edcamps also have people truly "presenting" but we liked the simplicity of everyone being seen as an equal in sessions and didn't choose to have sessions with presenters.

That being said, if you truly value feedback, then you must consider what it suggests. Hearing 3-5 people each time we had edcamp say "I wish I could have learned more about (blank)" or "I didn't know enough about a subject to take part and I wish someone could have just presented" kept blaring through to me. I was less concerned with the feedback where people just wanted the opportunity to be presenters and more concerned that some of the attendees wanted to be presented to. We talked back and forth about what we could do to accommodate this request and finally, I reached out to Hadley Ferguson of Edcamp USA and had the following conversation:

Julie Davis

Sat, Jan 20, 2018, 10:00 PM
to Hadley
I have been the lead organizer for Edcamp Gigcity for the last 3 years and today we had our fifth annual event. I’m currently sitting here reading responses from the feedback form we asked attendees to fill out and I wanted your opinion on something.

It was always my understanding that Edcamps were to be organic in nature with facilitators but not presenters. We have some other area Edcamps that have adopted the model of having presenters/leaders but we have stuck with the more organic sharing model. Is there a right or wrong way? What’s your opinion on this? 

As I read over the responses I see requests for sessions that are led as well as requests for being allowed to lead sessions. I see the benefit of both ideas but I just wanted an Edcamp opinion. 

And FYI, it was an amazing day with 80+ educators attending and an overall positive response about it. I’m thankful to be a part of the unconference movement! 

Julie Davis

Hadley Ferguson

Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 4:33 PM
to me

This is such an interesting issue, and one that happens all the time. The longer edcamps go on, the more this is an issue. It is behind our strategy of having Encore Days as well as Edcamps. The Encore day provides a time for those with specific knowledge to share it with people who are interested in the topic, which has surfaced during the Edcamp. Perhaps there is a way to combine them, so that part of the day is organic and then part of it is targeted. 

I worry about becoming too much about people presenting their slidedecks, though if the Rule of Two Feet is firmly in place, then teachers can choose. My guess is that people are going to do it both ways. 

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on it,

Well Hadley, here are my thoughts! We sat down as a committee and we decided that part of the day would remain the traditional edcamp but the last session of the day would look like the Encore model. While it wasn't necessarily organic in nature because who knew what people would actually want to know more about, it seemed to work! Several members of our planning team volunteered to lead sessions for the last time slots of the day. That way if edcamp purists wanted to leave after lunch, they could. The feedback seemed to lend itself to positive in nature. Perhaps next year we will even change it to the last 2 time slots of the day and open it up to all attendees to have the opportunity to truly present on a topic? The truth is that with the rule of two feet, one doesn't have to worry if it isn't worthwhile or not. Attendees will decide by their actions. 

Does any other edcamps do something like this? 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Digital Citizenship Toolbox

Digital Citizenship Toolbox

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with third graders about
digital citizenship. I love talking about this topic with elementary
students because it is an easy age to influence them to
be good digital citizens. This year I changed my
"Digital Citizenship Toolbox" to have items that compliment 
the 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship. I want to reiterate the 
importance of all of these elements throughout our students time 
at our prek-12 school but third grade is when all 9 are introduced 
(instead of focusing on one or two at a time.)

Digital Access: Advocating for equal digital rights and access
is where digital citizenship starts.
*Object Lesson: Padlock and Equity/Equality Poster
I explain the difference between equality and equity and how some 
people in the world don't have access to things likewater or education
 but also the internet. The padlock represents those of us who have 
access but lock it down for our own use instead of sharing it with others. 
My example was how our school recently invited another school over to
 attend STEM lab time with a mix of fifth-grade students from both 
schools so that the other school could have an experience with robotics 
for the first time because those students do not have access to what our 
students have access to.

Digital Etiquette: Rules and policies aren't enough- we need
to teach everyone about appropriate conduct online.
*Object Lesson: Toothpaste- I squirt out some toothpaste as
I'm talking about saying rude things to others. I then ask what
happens when you say "I'm sorry and I take it back?" Students
talk about how you forgive and I ask them "Do you forget?" I then
use my finger to try to get the toothpaste back into the tube that I
squeezed out. I talk about when we say rude things and try to take
them back that they never really ever go all the way back. The
toothpaste represents those rude things and the messiness of me
trying to get it back in the tube represents the repercussions of saying
things we can't really take back online.

Digital Law: It's critical that users understand it is a crime to steal
or damage another's digital work, identity, or property.
*Object Lesson: Bagel Spreader- I talk about the role of a spreader
is to saturate a bagel. I talk about how digital law is part of all aspects
of digital identity or property. How we have a responsibility to respect
the work of others on the internet and not claim it as our own. I explain
how a photograph my sister took was on the internet and a company
took her photo without her permission and now uses it for their
advertisements. She received no payment or credit for her beautiful
photography but now the whole world can see it but no one knows
it belonged to her.
"How would that make you feel?"


Digital Communication: With so many communication options
available, users need to learn how to make appropriate decisions.
*Object Lesson: Permanent Marker- I talk about our digital
footprint and how the things we say have a long-lasting impact but
I also discuss how choosing the right method to communicate is
important because of the concept of permanence. Perhaps the
things you are saying are true but would it be better shared through
a direct message instead of a tweet for everyone to see?

Digital Literacy: We need to teach students how to learn
in a digital society.
*Object Lesson: Teacher ID Card- I show my school ID card
and talk about how technology can be integrated into learning. We
talk about the 4 C's- creation, consumption,curation, and connection
and how each of those can help them as learners. I also discuss
how each teacher has a responsibility to teach students how to
use technology wisely for educational purposes.

Digital Commerce: As users make more purchases online, they
must understand how to be effective consumers in a digital
*Object Lesson: Credit Card- I show the credit card and explain to
them that it is fast and easy to order things online. It is a great way
to get the exact things you want quickly but you also have to be aware
that the easiness of buying online can sometimes get people in trouble
with overspending. I then talk about how students shouldn't buy
anything online without their parents' permission- including
gaming upgrades.


Digital Rights and Responsibilities: We must inform people of
their basic digital rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc.
*Object Lesson: Passport- I show the passport and ask them what
it is. Once someone says a "United States" passport, I talk about the
rights and responsibilities I have as a U.S. citizen and then we connect
that to the rights and responsibilities they have as digital citizens. I also
explain that every single time they go online, they become a digital

Digital Safety and Security: Digital citizens need to know how to protect 
their information from outside forces that might cause harm.
*Object Lesson: Toothbrush- Would you use a toothbrush that
someone else just used? No, because their "slobber and germs" are all
over it- it's personal. Passwords and personal information should be
treated the same way. Protect yourself online so that others won't have
access to your "slobber, germs, address, etc." because once they have it,
it will never be the same.

Digital Health and Wellness: From physical issues, such as repetitive
stress syndrome, to psychological issues, such as internet addiction,
users should understand the health risks of technology.
*Object Lesson: Ball of String- 
I ask for 3 volunteers and I ask each
to hold onto a portion of the string. As they grab it, I wrap it around them
once and talk about how connected we can become on the internet due

 to social media and it can cause both good and bad feelings. While talking, 
I wrap the end of the string around myself multiple times until I am 
"trapped" and I talk about internet addiction and how it can control us.
 I also talk to them about creating boundaries to prevent this from happening.
This idea was adapted from “Essential Elements of Digital Citizenship” and Craig Badura’s blog post on Digital Citizenship Toolbox

Monday, March 4, 2019

Viral Messaging: Putting Digital Citizenship to the Test

The following post is by Alex Podchaski, and while I have never met him in person, we are part of each other's professional learning network. When the MOMO Challenge reared its ugly head last week, I reached out on Twitter to other technologists to find out what they were hearing and what their thoughts were. Alex's thoughts were spot on with mine and I asked him if he would guest blog on the subject for me. I'm thankful for his insights and for being a sounding board. This is his post and the original can be found here.

Turning A Viral Hoax Into A Lesson on Internet Safety

Over the last week, you have probably seen some reference to the “Momo Challenge,”
hidden messages in Youtube videos, and calls for technology companies to police their
systems to protect kids. You have probably also seen a number of reports of things being
a hoax that should be ignored. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between, and we
wanted to help you sort things out along with giving you some practical advice on how to
deal with these types of reports in the future.

As educators, we spend a great deal of time trying to figure out the best way to prepare
our students for the challenges they will face, both in the real and the digital worlds.
Many times we have to deal with the theoretical, as we can’t always create the proper
real-world scenarios to take all the aspects of instruction into account during a given
situation. For many of us, we have embraced the concepts of digital citizenship,
trying to help our communities navigate the difference between behaviors and
actions online and in real life. We have created great models, listed out recommended
behavior, taught interesting lessons, and sometimes even given badges when we
have been successful. But the real test of what we are teaching is not how we respond
to the manufactured situation, but how we then address something that happens for real.

Case Study: What is the #MoMoChallenge?
There have been reports for the last 18 months about the #MomoChallenge. It started
with reports of someone or something luring students via social media accounts on
Facebook and WhatsApp to do harm to themselves and others under threat of public
humiliation and physical intimidation. Reports were made that students had harmed
themselves. Over the last week, it became a video that was being embedded in
popular children's videos on YouTube. Over the weekend, the media has picked
up on what has really happened and gotten to the real part of the story - it’s not real.
Here are a few sources we find credible on the topic:

Unfortunately, these reports come after many local news organizations and school districts
had already bought into the fear, uncertainty and doubt caused by reports on social media,
encouraged by media celebrities posting and reposting without knowing all the facts.
Part of the challenge of being an educator is taking the time to evaluate what we discover,
and then choosing the appropriate response. It is not always easy, and we have a lot to
learn as well. A friend posted the following article online after a long discussion by a
number of us on twitter regarding the whole situation.

Those who choose actions that attempt to negatively influence children are truly
despicable. The various challenges and stories that appear online about suggestions being
made to kids about trying to disappear, or cause harm to themselves, or to act out in foolish
ways make me mad. But as horrible as those behaviors are, are we really doing what we
need to in order to minimize their influence on our students and children? Whenever one
of these stories makes the news or makes it around the rumor mill from parents,
other teachers, or social media, I try to apply the same rules we teach our students about
how to determine what is really going on and how to appropriately respond.

Questions to Ask Yourself
  • Is the source authentic?
When we search for those items to watch or use, are we paying attention to where they
come from? I love Marvel movies, and I love watching the trailers and shorts as they are
released online. But each time I go looking for them, I have to choose between those who
are copying the material for their own benefit and the official sources of the clips and
trailers. I know I can trust the official versions to be appropriate and only have
trusted content. I cannot make the same claim for the random account that copies or
changes the video for their own purposes.

  • Is the content appropriate?
The classic definition of, “I know it when I see it … ,” applies here. We are all tempted to
watch that video that reveals the secret about someone or something. Or maybe we can’t
wait for that movie to come out on DVD/streaming so we find that copy out there online.
Sometimes, we just need that child to be quiet, so we let them watch something (anything)
to get five minutes of peace and quiet. We may all do this, but we know that it is not
always appropriate, and we need to take a moment to determine what our real motivation
and response should be. There is an internet phenomenon called the Rick Roll.
You can check out the whole story on Wikipedia, but it was all about includingRick Astley’s
“Never Gonna Give You Up” video, lyrics, images or music in any type of internet post.
Videos were posted that purported to reveal one thing, but the viewer was faced with the
video of Rick Astley shortly after starting. There are people who will post anything just to
get the views and increase their income potential. We need to be discerning when choosing which videos we watch.

  • Do I really need to share?
Just by being on social media, I receive all kinds of warning, updates, stories, breaking
news, and other notifications that demand that I share them with my connections.
It ranges from outbreaks of illnesses to political messages to online petitions that
demand that I repost them. I ignore almost all of it. Why? In most cases, if I have followed
the previous two steps, the originating organization, or the intent of the poster, almost
always is something that I deem appropriate, and most of the time the primary source
of the original message is not from anyone or any group I would recognize as an authority
on the message they are posting. I value my online community, both personally and 
professionally. If I post something, it becomes part of my online reputation. I am not willing
to risk my reputation for just anyone or anything. It is hard enough to maintain credibility in
face to face relationships. Online is harder. We should always think before we post.
In most cases, it will save us from a world of grief.

  • Walking the Walk
As adults, it’s important to understand that we need to be as responsible online as we
expect our children and our technology companies to be. We need to stay aware of the
potential threats and dangers, but we also need to know when to react, and when to be
patient and dig deeper. By sitting and talking with your children about internet safety
and the rules you’ve established as parents, it will help guide them toward appropriate
content online. Give them limits, but also make sure you are aware of what is out there
and what they are watching. By modeling good behavior, it may even help you
remain accountable, as well.

Alex Podchaski, a Certified Education Technology Leader, has been Oak Knoll’s Chief Technology Officer since 2008. In 2015, he was named to Huffington Post’s inaugural list of the Top Social Tech Leaders in K-12 education as someone who has embraced social media to exchange ideas and solutions in the ever-evolving educational landscape. He earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Rutgers University, where he would also earn a master’s in strategic management. Mr. Podchaski also taught as an adjunct faculty member at the university, where he built Rutgers’ first network operations center. You can follow him on Twitter at @ajpodchaski.

Friday, March 1, 2019

What This Instructional Technologist Learned from the MOMO Challenge

Yesterday I spent hours researching a sinister mother bird known as MOMO. This is time I can never get back but the time I felt needed to be spent to best support the families of our school. Trying to discern whether the MOMO Suicide Challenge was real or not. Trying to discern how pervasive the issue really was. Trying to answer emails from concerned parents. Trying to decide how best to communicate with our stakeholders regarding it all. Wavering between "it isn't something to be concerned about" to "yes, it is something to be concerned about" over and over throughout the day.

The frustration over all this is high but it has also been a huge eye-opening learning experience for me. Today, our school sent out this email to families regarding this hot topic. As someone that has lived with suicidal thoughts during a time in my life, I don't take this lightly. That being said, I also believe that social media can cause this to be blown out of proportion and it becomes glamorized. That's my concern.

Here are some interesting thoughts I have had while researching this:

  • This is a direct hit to adult responsibility because MOMO is now showing up randomly inside what would be considered kid-friendly videos on YouTube (Peppa the Pig and Fortnite, for instance). When I look around I see adults oftentimes unaware of what children are actually doing on devices. There is a false sense of security and complacency that some adults have accepted that is getting a huge slap in the face.
  • I spent hours researching MOMO and I'm still not sure of its initial pervasiveness and impact on society and this worries me as an instructional technologist. 
  • Adults seem to be propagating the issue and it's mainly on Facebook. I get it, parents are scared. The MOMO character and it's message should not be heard by anyone but when I ask students what they know about it, most know very little. Facebook is now an adult heavy platform and the fear we are seeing there is not translating into actual issues- at least at our school. The concern is a breeding frenzy. The more we repost and share, the more likely that bad people continue to create bad things. We feed their need to think what they are doing is worthwhile.  
  • This is a digital citizenship issue at every level. Yes, there are videos on YouTube that have been created in what I feel is a copycat manner based on the original concept of what purportedly was happing in the WhatsApp messaging app. But if you are allowing your students/children to watch any video of Peppa Pig uploaded by any person, these are pirated videos and the chance of them containing inappropriate information is there. Adults should use this time to model and teach children about looking for ways to view things that take copyright laws into account. If you want to watch a video on YouTube, look for an official owner of that video to see if it exists. If it doesn't, YouTube isn't where you should be going to watch someone's version of a video recording of that streaming TV program. 
  •  We are in an era where we cannot just repost and retweet what we see on social media without looking a little deeper. is a great place to check for validity. What we are seeing this week regarding MOMO is lightyears away from what was originally being suggested was happening. It is still horrifying that people are trying to trick small children to watch self-harm videos but we need to be vigilant in knowing we have a responsibility on the information that is actually being shared. 
  • Fear causes people to shut down good things. With every good gift that God has given us, there will always be people that use it for sinister plans. YouTube and WhatsApp aren't inherently bad, they just need to be used in appropriate ways. Don't allow evil to win. This is a reminder of the "Blue Whale Challenge." We must be both discerning and vigilant in the way we both address and ignore these type of things within our community.
  • This is a great opportunity to talk to children about self-harm and self-awareness. Creating a sense of open communication is important in all aspects of a child's life, not just technology.  
  • Lastly, there will be something else. When I was young it was listening to Ozzy Osborn records backward. Recently it was the "Tide Pods Challenge" and the "Blue Whale." As adults, we need to look at the last few days and not immediately repost what we are seeing or assume it is real. This is why it took me days to figure out if this problem was actually immersive or not. Help the world by not feeding the frenzy.